The tortoise has a strong significance in Chinese culture.
Because of it’s naturally long lifespan, it is understandably associated with longevity. But there’s more to it than just a long life.
The hump on the creature’s shell gives it a somewhat similar appearance to a mountain. Thus, it is often used as a representation of a mountain which people can depend on for support.
In ancient divination practices like the coin oracle for example, the empty tortoise shell is used when one is calling divine help and guide to life.
This was because the world was believed to be shaped like a dome. With the curve of the sky representing heaven and the flat ground representing earth. Somewhat like shape of a tortoise shell.
Legend of the tortoise
One of the popular folklore about the tortoise is about a man who placed a tortoise under a bed leg to balance up. When he died a number of years later, his family found the animal still alive when moving his belongings.
Even a famous scholar once wrote that if one can consume the shell of a thousand-year-old tortoise, one can attain longevity.
Another popular myth concerns the story of how the 4 legs of a gigantic tortoise ended up holding up the sky from the 4 directions.
When paired with a snake, it almost certainly is a reference to an infamous piece of archaeological art concept where a snake is wrapped around a tortoise and appear to be mating. To this day, there is no clear consensus on the hidden meanings behind that pictorial find. But it explains why some practitioners see the snake as an equivalent alternative to the tortoise.
If the snow lion is acting in place of the shelled creature, the message should be interpreted in the context of Tibetan Buddhism.
The legend regarding how the luo shu grids came about states the appearance of a tortoise appearing in the river with markings on it’s shell.
Feng Shui placement of tortoise
It takes up the back of the house which provides support for residents.
Feng shui masters often make references to the left dragon and right tiger (左青龙右白虎) when explaining suggestions to orientation, but that is only half the story. The other half is the front phoenix and rear tortoise.
It is important to note that while this is often depicted as south in diagrams, the tortoise does not occupy the south by default.
This is because the rear of a property can be in any direction depending on which direction it is facing.
The reason why the amphibian is most often depicted with the south is that diagrams tend to put the north-south axis as a vertical line with a house facing north. Thereby putting the tortoise on the south.
Placement of the tortoise is actually best in the north sector of the house as this is an area where water energy resides. This would be an ideal location is the north resides at the sitting of the house.
This is so that the animal will have access to water which is part and parcel of it’s natural living environment.
Otherwise, they are good creatures to have on the back or sides of a person’s orientation when sitting down. Such as the back or either sides of workstations or sofa sets.
Because it symbolizes longevity and good health, it can also be appropriately placed in health locations of a house.
This makes both the Tian Yi and Yen Nien locations in 8 mansions feng shui good home sectors to place tortoises.
However if the setup is an aquarium, then remember to keep the rules of setting up a feng shui aquarium in mind too. And do be mindful that pets like turtles and terrapins need proper care to stay healthy.
When the creature is related to the dragon tortoise, be mindful that they are clearly different in feng shui applications.
The dragon kind is more associated with wealth and descendants luck.
On another note, there is an odd old-school practice of finding the best sectors of a house using the assistance of tortoises.
In the old days when families purchase a new house and have yet to finalize the placement of furniture, it is said that if you bring a tortoise to the place and leave it overnight with all the internal doors open, the next day when you arrive at the location, the area where the tortoise ends up sleeping or resting is the area where chi accumulates best. This is thus, identified as a good wealth, health or relationship area depending on how you use it.
It’s no wonder that tortoises are often found in some corner of the house that is the primary wealth location!